People in England are now allowed to meet outdoors in groups of up to six or two households (with social distancing), as the first of the country’s coronavirus measures were eased Monday.
The country has been in full national lockdown since January 4, after a new, more transmissible variant of coronavirus was discovered in southeast England.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis courts, swimming pools and golf courses have been permitted to reopen, and organized outdoor sports with an unlimited number of people have been given the thumbs up.
Weddings are no longer limited to exceptional circumstances but are only allowed a maximum of six attendees.
As the ‘stay at home’ level of Covid restrictions ended, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged caution as cases elsewhere in Europe continue to grow.
“I know how much people have missed the camaraderie and competition of organized sport, and how difficult it has been to restrict physical activities — especially for children,” Johnson said.
“I know many will welcome the increased social contact, with groups of 6 or two households now also able to meet outdoors,” he added.
But we must remain cautious, with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening our vaccine rollout.”
While it is the most significant easing in England since schools returned on March 8, many businesses remain shuttered, people are still being encouraged to work from home where possible, and meeting indoors and travel abroad is still prohibited.
The rules are set to be relaxed further in coming weeks provided the UK vaccination program continues unhindered and infection rates don’t surge.
The next round of easing is due to take place no sooner than April 12 when non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen. At the same time, restaurants and pubs will be able to serve people outdoors.
Johnson’s government is hopeful that most of the economy will be able to open before the end of June.